President George W. Bush is leaving office. I have no desire to beat up on him; I'm certain that he is, at heart, a nice person. I felt the same way about Jimmy Carter. In fact I am somewhat famously known (among my children, at least) for stating that President Carter was sincere in his belief that what he did was right for the nation. I believe that George W. Bush was also sincere in his belief that he was following the leading of his conscience.
The important difference is that Carter was congruent in his philosophy and behavior. Bush seems truly unable to see the contradictions in his actions and statements. For example, Bush described the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iran as a "huge disappointment." I'm sorry. This doesn't qualify as a "huge disappointment" in my view. I consider it a "huge disappointment" when one of my sons doesn't get a job/raise/etc. Going to war under the pretense of WMD is more along the order of tragedy. When a President chooses to engage in a war that costs the lives of nearly 5,000 men and woman, I think this is much more than a "disappointment" to the wives, husband, children, parents, siblings, and friends of those who died. When young people die before they have a chance to live, it is at least as tragic as abortion. At least. For the Commander in Chief to call it a "disappointment" diminishes the value of those lives.
Let us leave the war for a moment and visit President Bush's most "anxious moment" during his 8-year Presidency. According to him, it was when he threw the opening pitch for the 2001 World Series. Now none of us can deny that there was unprecedented pressure upon the President following the tragedy of 9/11. It was a time when all of us were hyper-aware of the eyes of the world and we were keeping our own eyes open. But after 7-1/2 years of war, strife, abuses of prisoners, economic collapse - and still, the World Series opening ball was the President's most anxious moment? I just don't get it.
So, Mr. President, we bid you farewell. I voted for you once and I have to say that I regret that vote. For I was as frivolous as you. I voted for you because Al Gore bored me. I didn't want to listen to four - or eight - years of his monotony. And so I cast my vote with as little care as you have shown for the men and women who have paid the ultimate price of freedom - even as you have expressed your angst over throwing out a ball at the World Series. I wish I could take that vote back, because I will live with the shame of it for the rest of my days.
I'd like to say that you seem like the kind of guy I'd enjoy having a beer with - and maybe I would. But that will never happen. I am left to judge you as each of us is judged by others: by the congruency of our actions and our words. You are not an introspective man; we have learned that over the years. So history will be your judge - though you dismiss even that judgment. I am glad we have survived you, even though we have only barely done so. I am glad you are going home to Texas. They will welcome you and give you a place.
But I am sorry for the damage you have done to our nation. I am sorry - grievously sorry - for the lives lost in your made-up war. I am sorry for the loss of respect that this nation has felt around the world. I am sorry for the people who have lost the respect of the American people because of you. But most of all, I am sorry for that vote I cast in November, 2000. I wish I could take it back.